Lots of politics, lots of misinformation, lots of chaff over the flotilla/blockade/raid/deaths.
I’ve seen footage of Israeli soldiers rapelling to the deck of a ship and being met by a bunch of people beating them with poles. The flotilla’s twitter feed says there’s video of soldiers landing and opening fire but I haven’t seen that anywhere. These might have been on different boats, it’s hard to know. The exact course of events during this raid will be picked over at length, as will the legal basis for Israel’s action and for resistance to that action by people on the boats.
Unchanged is the bigger picture. The blockade of Gaza is a massive collective punishment. Basic supplies in the territory are insufficient. Previous aid shipments have been turned away. Israeli ambassador on Radio NZ this morning said that the flotilla was a political provocation; of course it was. The flotilla wanted to either make it through the blockade, or to be stopped by it and arrested and deported; either way they get political wins. Israel’s decision to drop armed commandoes on to the flotilla at 4.30am was a bizarre answer to what was essentially a political problem. Surely there are other ways to stop ships arriving in a blaze of publicity to test your blockade, ways that don’t risk the deaths of unarmed civilians, or indeed risk the deaths of Israeli personnel.
There is already massive international condemnation for Israel’s actions in this raid. Rightly so. But I can’t help but wonder how there is any way back to peace. Israel is increasingly isolated politically, even the US is standing at a distance from it now, but its status as a regional power is undisputed. If there’s any way to wind back the pressure in the Middle East, I just can’t see it. And the only other way to go is towards confrontation.
It’s an unhappy day.